Football Attendance

Athletics Department, Facilities, etc.
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Neckfansince71
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Joined: Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:06 pm

Sun Nov 24, 2019 8:03 pm

BobLovely, got my first experience at Hanson the fall of 1971. Opening night, large crowd, and a brand-new expanded east side which was replaced by the nice stands and concessions that we have now. No matter what, I really think that Hanson Field is a great venue to watch college football.

I think you really hit the nail or nails on the head except for the northern connection to Macomb which is really pretty good except for slow downs in Monmouth and Good Hope. The rest is 4 lane and 65/70 mph and you can drive to Macomb from my house in Wheaton in 3.45 hours including a bathroom stop on 74. I also think that our rotating door of football staffs has done nothing for continuity.

One of the major problems as far as I am concerned is the fact that there have not been many administrations that championed athletics. I know some people did not have alot of respect for TimV except in reality, he was really facilities minded and I think it was his bullish attitude that resulted in his dismissal. Never forget looking at the information on the "capital campaign" and asking a certain member of the administration if when we hit 6o million, which of course we did, would work on the westside begin. A large colorful picture of TimV’s multipurpose Education/Athletics westside could be found in the campaign picture book and so I was surprised when the administrator said, “well we would need a 10 million dollar donation for that!” I was just a bit confused!!!! Tommy Bell had a vision but then he left for greener pastures. Our enrollment was sagging but we really of course hit the skids with Rauners lack of budget and all the rumors that came after that.

So we gotta win to get more people in the stands, but in order to win we need to beable to compete for the talent pool that is FSC football. Our competitors are telling anyone who will listen that we are going D2, but we don’t even have D2 facilities in football at the present time.
We are not going D2. Sooner or later we have got to make the move to support our FCS football team the way it needs to be supported. Our new president knows that athletics is important and so does our new AD. I know that I am suppose to stay patient but I am really having a tough time with that lately. So I am going to continue to look for more involvement
with the Leatherneck Club, and I am going to continue to support WIU athletics. ;) jc
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BobLovely
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Mon Nov 25, 2019 1:51 pm

Neckfansince71 wrote:
Sun Nov 24, 2019 8:03 pm
BobLovely, got my first experience at Hanson the fall of 1971. Opening night, large crowd, and a brand-new expanded east side which was replaced by the nice stands and concessions that we have now. No matter what, I really think that Hanson Field is a great venue to watch college football.

I think you really hit the nail or nails on the head except for the northern connection to Macomb which is really pretty good except for slow downs in Monmouth and Good Hope. The rest is 4 lane and 65/70 mph and you can drive to Macomb from my house in Wheaton in 3.45 hours including a bathroom stop on 74. I also think that our rotating door of football staffs has done nothing for continuity.

One of the major problems as far as I am concerned is the fact that there have not been many administrations that championed athletics. I know some people did not have a lot of respect for TimV except in reality, he was really facilities minded and I think it was his bullish attitude that resulted in his dismissal. Never forget looking at the information on the "capital campaign" and asking a certain member of the administration if when we hit 6o million, which of course we did, would work on the westside begin. A large colorful picture of TimV’s multipurpose Education/Athletics westside could be found in the campaign picture book and so I was surprised when the administrator said, “well we would need a 10 million dollar donation for that!” I was just a bit confused!!!! Tommy Bell had a vision but then he left for greener pastures. Our enrollment was sagging but we really of course hit the skids with Rauners lack of budget and all the rumors that came after that.

So we gotta win to get more people in the stands, but in order to win we need to be able to compete for the talent pool that is FSC football. Our competitors are telling anyone who will listen that we are going D2, but we don’t even have D2 facilities in football at the present time.
We are not going D2. Sooner or later we have got to make the move to support our FCS football team the way it needs to be supported. Our new president knows that athletics is important and so does our new AD. I know that I am suppose to stay patient but I am really having a tough time with that lately. So I am going to continue to look for more involvement
with the Leatherneck Club, and I am going to continue to support WIU athletics. ;) jc
Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comments. Most certainly, I agree. It has been a number of years since I have driven north out of Macomb but when I did it was a slow mess due to construction. Thankfully, the drive to Macomb from my home in the Kansas City area is 4-lane almost the entire 300 mile distance.

I clearly remember the 1971 season. Opening night in 1971 was a hard fought 23-21 victory over Indiana State. That team went on to finish 8-2. Per the WIU record book, we averaged 12,006 in attendance that year with the record being in 1973 when we averaged 13,815. Those were great years in Macomb and for WIU football. We may have been the best college football team in the state of Illinois during that time period. While we were then DII, we had a number of true DI level quality players on the team. There was a "special energy" with the football program and on game day.

Even as late as 10-15 years ago we enjoyed good to excellent attendance. As a proud alum and fan of WIU football like you, I find the current state of the football program and stadium condition to be totally unacceptable and an embarrassment. The school and the rich tradition deserves better. This includes the coaching staff, quality of recruits, university support, student support and alumni support. The west side of the stadium needs to be replaced.

As you keenly observed in your comment above, Hanson Field is indeed a special place.

Bob
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Neckfansince71
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Mon Nov 25, 2019 6:21 pm

So parent's weekend, 1971, Ball State game! Its when I was hooked on WIU Football! Final Score - 20-19. I know that game came down to the final moments and my sister and I were right their at the goal line as WIU pulled a huge win out. I also remember getting beat up by Akron that year which hurt any chances we had for a berth in the D2 playoffs. It was a different time. ;) jc
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sealhall74
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Mon Nov 25, 2019 6:56 pm

Lower the drinking age to 18 like it is in most countries of the world and student attendance would go way up. It's a no-brainer. Pre-game house parties for the Greeks. Bars on University Dr would flourish before and after the games. Ahhh, the gold ole days of yesteryear when the drinking age was 19 give or take. LOL

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_drinking_age
If Jimmy V was a programmer like me, he would have said it like this: while (!(succeed = try()));
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BobLovely
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Tue Nov 26, 2019 3:21 pm

Neckfansince71 wrote:
Mon Nov 25, 2019 6:21 pm
So parent's weekend, 1971, Ball State game! Its when I was hooked on WIU Football! Final Score - 20-19. I know that game came down to the final moments and my sister and I were right their at the goal line as WIU pulled a huge win out. I also remember getting beat up by Akron that year which hurt any chances we had for a berth in the D2 playoffs. It was a different time. ;) jc
I remember that game well! Last game of season. I believe it was 21-20 Western. We lost two in a row in 1971, to Northeast Missouri State and future NFL running back Lenvil Elliott [since deceased] 35-21 in Kirksville and to Akron 14-7 in the rain at the Rubber Bowl in Akron. Actually, the DII playoffs did not begin until 1973.

The following year in 1972, we also beat Ball State in Muncie, 21-17. Years later, I had the opportunity to chat with former Ball State HC Dave McLain when he was HC at Wisconsin. He clearly remembered Western's close victories in those games. Dave suddenly passed away due to a heart attack at age of 42 when he was at Wisconsin.

Bob
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Neckfansince71
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Tue Nov 26, 2019 7:56 pm

Yes, 21-20!!!! I have three wonderful memories of the 1973 season. Opening night, not sure who we played but it was the first real date my wife and I ever had. It turned out that it was a "win win" situation, Then, I broke up with a girl from Miami of Ohio who I had been seeing before I met my wife. I drove there and back, arrived in time to get a little sleep, then headed to Hanson. My future wife was selling programs as part of a sorority activity. We got to witness a 17-14 win over Eastern Miichigan as Gary Birch split the uprights. My third memory is sitting in a jam packed Hanson Field at homecoming versus Central Michigan with 19000 other Leatherneck fans also for the win although I don't remember the final score. What a wonderful season to start a real romance! ;) jc
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BobLovely
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Wed Nov 27, 2019 4:37 pm

Neckfansince71 wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 7:56 pm
Yes, 21-20!!!! I have three wonderful memories of the 1973 season. Opening night, not sure who we played but it was the first real date my wife and I ever had. It turned out that it was a "win win" situation, Then, I broke up with a girl from Miami of Ohio who I had been seeing before I met my wife. I drove there and back, arrived in time to get a little sleep, then headed to Hanson. My future wife was selling programs as part of a sorority activity. We got to witness a 17-14 win over Eastern Michigan as Gary Birch split the uprights. My third memory is sitting in a jam packed Hanson Field at homecoming versus Central Michigan with 19000 other Leatherneck fans also for the win although I don't remember the final score. What a wonderful season to start a real romance! ;) jc
Thanks you for sharing the great memories! 1973 season was my last football season as a undergrad at Western. The 1973 football team was very talented but underperformed versus the talent level. The season began with a loss on the road against UNI 14-20 in a game played in the rain in Cedar Falls. Opening night at Hanson Field was a hard fought 14-10 victory over an improved Northern Michigan team led by freshman QB Steve Mariucci. Yes, the same guy who later coached Brett Favre as QB coach in Green Bay, became HC of the 49ers and who now is an analyst on NFL network. This was the first of (5) straight victories for the team which included wins over ranked Eastern Michigan 17-14 and the famous highly attended Homecoming game against Central Michigan 24-18.

After a mistake filled 14-22 loss at Indiana State, the Leatherneck traveled to DeKalb and beat DI Northern Illinois 30-27 again on a late Gary Birch FG as he had previously done against Eastern Michigan several weeks earlier. The NIU captains refused to "shake hands" with the WIU captains after the coin toss prior to the game. Then came a hard fought home loss to Akron in Macomb 7-12 followed by a rout of Eastern Illinois in Charleston 56-13. The Eastern QB was Mike Shanahan, later HC of the Los Angeles Raiders, Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins. The team finished the regular season at 7-3 and candidly, they should have been 10-0 or 9-1.

Western was invited to the first DII playoffs as an at large participant and drew #1 seed Louisiana Tech in Ruston. While we lost 18-13, we should have won. Western QB Steve Mikez threw (2) interceptions in the Tech end zone including what would have been the game winner as time expired. Tech was led by future NFL Hall of Fame DT Fred Dean and by future NFL players Mike Barber, Roland Harper, Pat Tilley and Roger Carr. Tech went on to win the DII national championship beating Western Kentucky in final 34-0.

Special Note to other Forum Members: Thank you for indulging us in these fond memories. The point here is how WIU alumni remember their college years with affection in part because of the quality of the football program and the true "event" nature of the games at Hanson Field. This is why we need a total rebuild of the football program and a new west side stadium. Candidly, we thought the stadium was "old" in 1973.

Bob
wiu712
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Wed Nov 27, 2019 6:12 pm

Hanson Field opened in the fall of 1950. Prior to 1950, the football field was behind Sherman Hall--in the area where Tillman Hall and Seal Hall are now.
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Neckfansince71
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Thu Nov 28, 2019 8:11 am

There were plans to move Hanson Field just north of University Drive next to where the Hyvee/Broadcasting building and Credit Union now stand. There is a nice broad ravine in that location which would have provided the base "ground work" for such a structure. Maybe thats partially why they decided not to upgrade the press box. I know in the mid 80's they had a campaign to "Rebuild the Rock" which resulted in the press box we see today. Seems like at times though we never think of the future. Just happy with "good enough for Macomb!" ;) jc
wiu712
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Fri Nov 29, 2019 8:28 am

When Western was growing and expanding back in the 1960's, the thinking was to re-locate Hanson Field in order to use that space for classroom buildings.

That idea was dropped when the costs of re-locating the steam tunnels (that run underneath the football field) were considered.
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